As the U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, I learned to appreciate the talents of the Belgian filmmakers. Their tradition runs deep and they make meaningful films, well-directed, on budgets that would be unthinkable in Hollywood.
We just watched “The Broken Circle Breakdown, ” a Belgian film that is nominated for the Academy Award for “Best Foreign film.” The film is brilliantly directed by Felix Van Groeningen and boasts powerful performances by Veerle Baetens, Johan Heldenbergh, and Nell Cattrysse. It is a fabulous film, soaked in melancholy and playing bumper pool with the viewers’ emotions. It plainly deserves to win the Oscar.
But “The Broken Circle Breakdown” is far more. As the recently-former U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, I can say with confidence that the movie can provide Americans with insights about Belgium and about Europe, for it is quintessentially Belgian. And it provides great insights into how Belgians and Europeans view America and Americans. Belgians generally love America; even more so, they want to love America. As “The Broken Circle Breakdown” illustrates. sometimes we make that difficult.